Tuesday, 22 November 2016

I wish I'd been a remainer

Running a blog is not an easy thing to do. This is my third blogspot, and to date the most successful, but only through persistence and a lot of hard work. It doesn't get nearly the sort of hits it should get for the effort that goes into it. I think this is because it is a fairly niche blog. The hardcore rump of the leave "movement" (for want of a better word) have a very particular narrative to which I do not subscribe and in fact I have more common ground with most remainers than I do leavers. For the most part they have a better command of the details.

One such example was Dr Mike Galsworthy's video critique of Brexit the Movie (BTM). BTM was an absolute travesty. I really wanted to tear into Galsworthy because I have a strong dislike of him, his sneering superior attitude and his overall dishonesty, but I had to let that video critique slide because nothing he said about it was anything I wouldn't have.

Similarly InFacts did not make life very easy in that they picked all the soft targets; Hannan, Redwood and the rest. The attacked all the Vote Leave core arguments in such a way that it was impossible to come to the defence of the leave side. My only real critique of InFacts, apart from their selection bias was that they did a pretty dismal job compared to the demolition job I would have done in their place, and if they'd read this blog they would have found new material with which to beat them over the head.

From an entirely selfish point of view I really do wish I'd been a remainer. It would have been so much more rewarding from a publishing perspective and I would have been acknowledged by the official campaign. Had I been for remaining in the EU I expect this blog would have had three times the exposure. Instead this blog, among others aligned with The Leave Alliance, continues to toil in obscurity - and though we made something of an impact, mainstream history will not make mention of us.

It is said that history is written by the victors. In this case history is written by the establishment media. In their book Vote Leave was the voice of the leave campaign and there are no other points of view. But that's because Vote Leave is very much a branch of the establishment too. In no way could it be considered a grassroots campaign and was conducted entirely through the London media using mainstream politicians and Tory party affiliates.

This is really what the establishment is. An overriding orthodoxy whereby it does not matter who you are or what you say. If you do not have prestige, connections and subsequently the acknowledgement of media you don't exist. There is no grey area.

In this there were plenty of nobodies on the remain side who were acknowledged by media simply because they conform to the establishment narrative, and because they only made arguments within the parameters allowed. The media then picks the low hanging fruit to represent the opposition. This dynamic is wonderfully sketched out by a friend of mine on Facebook who is, not for the first time, quoted on this blog...
"And now on BBC Radio 4, to talk to us about the EU, we have Professor Claus van der Reasoning, an expert on the European Union and a jolly good chap. Professor van der Reasoning is the Clegg Professor of Europe at the European Institute of Europe and has absolutely no axe to grind.

Here to give the anti-European perspective is Sir Henry Bigot MP, a foam-flecked lunatic who hates and little else, and was once reported by the Guardian to have felched David Duke while singing Horst Wessel Lied. He may experience technical issues.

Welcome both of you to this balanced programme that represents both sides of the argument."
And this is actually why the likes of Farage are now on our screens and on the front pages. In that regard, Farage and co are tools of the establishment. They never banked on the public finding them less repellent than themselves. Their hubris has backfired.

I suspect this tactic is a good part of the reason why they lost. They were too self-absorbed. Though the best leave arguments were never deployed on TV during the referendum and had few, if any, champions in the public debate, those arguments definitely were made on social media and on the blogs which bypassed the establishment debate entirely. It's entirely possible that bloggers influenced half million people between us.

That though does not change the post-referendum narrative where the remainers maintain their reputation as the informed and reasonable while the leavers are still portrayed as populist oiks driving the country to ruin on the back of fabrications and lies. The vote may have gone against the establishment but the establishment is still very much in control of the debate.

Amusingly this now bites them on the behind because the one course of action they now seek (something akin with the Norway Option) is the one they went to great lengths to demolish during the referendum. The reason being is that it is entirely safe. They have painted themselves into a corner.

We are now seeing them put up a feeble campaign for an EEA settlement but because they have never explored the potential merits of it, or bothered to acknowledge advocates of it, they are forced into using the same old tactics of scaremongering - repeating all the same mistakes. They are, by their own behaviour, actually increasing the support for leaving the single market.

They could, of course, use Flexcit but that would mean doing something they never do; admitting they are wrong. It would mean acknowledging the author and all those leave campaigners who made the case for a progressive Brexit. Remainers would actually rather damage Britain than break the conspiracy of silence.

But then there is method in their madness. Their hope is to keep the debate off balance and deprived of clarity for long enough that the resultant incoherent shambles will erode the support for Brexit. Best of all, being an incoherent mess takes no particular effort on the part of the media.

Once again it falls to the bloggers to bring any clarity to the situation, and once again without any real acknowledgement. Had we been remainers, by now we would have soaring hits and a considerably larger following, and maybe a seat at the table. But that is reserved for remainers like Open Europe. For sure, most leavers aren't capable of making an intellectual contributions but those of us who are, are simply not allowed.

In the end, from a self-interested perspective, it's really rather a pity that the EU is an obsolete, antidemocratic relic standing in the way of progress, otherwise I'd have done quite well out of this. Sadly, or not so sadly, for all the common ground I had with remainers I could never make the final leap that Britain should be subordinate to a supreme European government. Now I just want both extremes of the debate to lose. Sadly though, for all the waffle we have heard about "toppling the establishment", eurosceptics have never had less power or influence than now. Such is the extent of Ukip's failure. 

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